J C de Menezes and Paul Tibbets • 9 November 2007 • The SnowBlog

J C de Menezes and Paul Tibbets

Political post I always feel so naive about things like this, but I really didn't know in the case of the shooting of J.C. de Menezes that the police were allowed to intentionally kill anyone. For me the case is less about  questioning whether they used their authority to kill people appropriately and more about my surprise that they had that authority. When did that happen?

Picking up another story in the news: I also can't believe how easy the West is on itself over civilian deaths. Of course accidents happen in wartime, but what about when it's not an accident? What about when someone drops an atomic bomb on a city, not because it's wholly, or even largely a military garrison, but because they want to demoralise a country? How is that not a truly awful war crime? The justification given for using nuclear weapons against civilian targets was that it saved soldiers' lives, but again, I didn't realise that was a moral principle our countries recognised. (And let's set aside for a moment that many people believe Japan was already trying to arrange surrender terms.) Imagine if instead of using an atomic bomb we'd used firing squads to rid ourselves of several hundred thousand Japanese civilians. It would have been more humane than radiation poisoning, but is there a sense in which that would have been morally worse? Would it still have been justified? For his sake, I'm glad the pilot of the Enola Gay didn't feel as though he had done a bad thing, but you have to wonder, how many tens of thousands of women, children, old people and babies can a person kill in one day before it starts to seem like a crime. I must be naive because I just don't get it.

Note: as per usual, I'm not saying that America had lower moral standards than Britain, they just applied them on a slightly larger scale. You wouldn't know it from the Nuremberg Trials, but we did our fair share of intentionally firebombing civilian targets. 


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